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Thursday, January 5, 2012

Others Covering Meeting Ignored Food-Stamp Comment

NABJ's Thumbs Down Goes to Cable Networks After All

Traynham Joins MSNBC as "Contributor" on Politics

Johnson Publishing Locates New Headquarters Space

700 at Services for Michigan Chronicle's Sam Logan

PBS' Suarez, Sreenivasan Irked by Visiting TV Critics

Cast Named for Play Inspired by Jayson Blair Scandal

Short Takes

Newt Gingrich holds a town hall meeting with the Meredith Lakes Region Tea Party in Meredith, N.H. The GOP presidential candidate defended his idea that children could be deployed as janitors. (Video) (Credit:

Others Covering Meeting Ignored Food-Stamp Comment

"I was one of twenty or so reporters in the room, but according to Dylan Byers I was first to tweet it," Dave Weigel of wrote from New Hampshire on Friday.

He was referring to this town hall comment Thursday from Newt Gingrich:

"So I'm prepared, if the NAACP invites me, I'll go to their convention and talk about why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps."

Weigel told Journal-isms he didn't write a piece based on the comment. But he was the only journalist in the room to report it, however briefly. And once he did, it went viral.

As Byers wrote in Politico on Friday:

"Newt Gingrich's comments about African-Americans and food stamps, made at a town hall meeting in New Hampshire yesterday, have made the expected media rounds — from Slate to The Daily Beast to The Associated Press to MSNBC — but the interpretation has changed somewhat along the way.

David Weigel"A reporter on the trail notes that Gingrich frequently says in his stump speeches that he would urge people to demand paychecks instead of food stamps — a talking point that it is not usually met with great alarm by the media. He also frequently says that he would go to the NAACP convention if it invited him. On Thursday morning, the two points came together when he said he would go to the NAACP convention and explain 'why the African-American community should demand paychecks and not be satisfied with food stamps.'

"Slate's Dave Weigel tweeted a slightly altered version of Gingrich's quote at 9:34 a.m., and Talking Points Memo put it up less than 20 minutes later with the headline, 'Newt: African Americans Should Get Off Food Stamps; Demand Paychecks.' An hour after that, The Daily Beast ran its story with the headline, 'Gingrich to African-Americans: Get Off of Food Stamps.' By the end of the day, the AP was comparing the quote to a remark made by Rick Santorum that the president of the National Urban League criticized as pandering to racist elements in the GOP."

In a posting on Friday, Weigel explained why he found the Gingrich quote newsworthy.

". . . Back in 2010, at Republican rallies and in columns, Gingrich was calling the Democrats the 'food stamp party.' Gingrich has been using this frame for a while, and he's used it despite the predictable moans from liberals that by discussing food stamps he MUST be dog-whistling to voters who think minorities are getting handouts.

"But in 2010 and 2011, Gingrich didn't say he was going to bring this message to black people, specifically. This was why his remarks on Thursday piqued my interest. A quick Nexis search — admittedly, Nexis hasn't been printing every transcript of every Newt speech — finds no examples of Gingrich saying he'll explain paychecks/food stamps at the NAACP's convention, and no example of Gingrich connecting food stamps/paychecks to black people specifically. ['Hmm,'] I thought. 'This is new.' "

Three other reporters whom Weigel said were in the room — from Yahoo News, Talking Points Memo and USA Today — did not respond to emails asking why they did not note the comment as Weigel did.

On Friday, Gingrich angrily denounced the media coverage of his comments.

"In an interview with CBS' Early Show, Gingrich said his words were distorted. And in fact, his actual quote was not that blacks should not demand food stamps, but that they should 'not be satisfied with them,' " Joy-Ann Reid wrote Friday for the Grio.

In any case, NAACP President Benjamin Todd Jealous, in a statement, noted that Gingrich had previously turned down the invitation the former House speaker said he now welcomes. Jealous also apparently quoted Gingrich incorrectly.

Jealous' statement said, ". . . According to Talking Points Memo and other sources, Gingrich was quoted as saying, 'I will go to the NAACP convention, and explain to the African-American community why they should demand paychecks instead of food stamps.'

" 'We invited Speaker Gingrich to attend our annual convention several times when he was Speaker of the House, but he declined to join us,' Jealous continued. 'If he is invited again, I hope that he would come, with the intention to unite rather than divide.' "

Weigel was hired in 2010 by Slate, which is owned by the Washington Post Co., after the Post fired him when "leaked online messages showed him disparaging some Republicans and commentators in highly personal terms," the Post's Howard Kurtz wrote at the time. Weigel, whose Post tenure lasted three months, had been hired to blog about conservatives.

In 2010, the NBCUniversal team accepted a Best Practices award from the National Association of Black Journalists: From left, John Wallace, then president, NBC Local Media; Jeff Zucker, then NBC Universal president; Steve Capus, president of NBC News; and Paula Madison, then executive vice president for diversity of NBC Universal. Wallace is now president of NBCUniversal Operations & Technical Services; Zucker and Madison have left NBCUniversal. (Credit: Jason Miccolo Johnson/NABJ)

NABJ's Thumbs Down Goes to Cable Networks After All

The National Association of Black Journalists Friday issued its 2011 Thumbs Down Award collectively to Bloomberg News, CNN, CNBC, Fox Business Channel, Fox News and MSNBC. The dubious distinction is given annually for reporting, commentary or other content found to be racially insensitive, or for practices at odds with NABJ's mission.

"The 2011 Thumbs Down Award was given to these cable networks for their failure to assign African-American journalists to on-air roles during primetime broadcasts," a news release said.

"On multiple occasions, NABJ has advised the cable news networks to improve their lack of diversity in primetime programming. And the Lawyers' Committee for Civil Rights Under Law has joined NABJ in calling for the networks to end the shutout of black journalists from primetime.

"Despite multiple changes that several of the networks have made to their on-air lineups, they each failed to use the opportunities to hire or promote African-American journalists as primetime anchors or hosts. The latest example occurred at CNN, which replaced 'In the Arena,' hosted by former New York Governor Eliot Spitzer, with 'Erin Burnett OutFront,' hosted by former CNBC anchor Erin Burnett.

" 'We have honored both CNN and NBC for their diversity efforts in the past,' NABJ Vice President-Broadcast Bob Butler said. 'However, it is 2011 and the fact remains, when you turn on any of these channels during prime time, you will not find an African-American host or anchor.'

"Recipients of the 2011 Thumbs Down Award were chosen by a vote by the previous NABJ Board of Directors. The decision to uphold that vote was made by the current Board after considerable deliberation, in part to call attention to the fact that this problem persists at all news networks. Indeed, it could be argued that every television news operation earned the Thumbs Down Award for 2011.

"It is important to note that NABJ draws a distinction between personalities working as anchors or hosts and journalists, nearly all whom have disappeared from primetime anchor chairs. In addition, NABJ believes all television news organizations have the responsibility to ensure that their on-air talent reflects the diversity found in their audiences.

"Earlier this year, NABJ Board members offered CNN Worldwide President Jim Walton solutions for increasing diversity, and we were pleased at his receptiveness. NABJ Board members also have had talks with NBC, and the network has made notable progress in further diversifying its non-primetime on-air and management staff."

"NABJ also announced today improvements to the evaluation of submissions for the Thumbs Down Award. The process has been shifted to the revamped Media Monitoring Task Force, chaired by nationally renowned media critic Eric Deggans of the Tampa Bay Times."

The NABJ decision to award the Thumbs Down comes after President Gregory H. Lee Jr.'s declaration last month that the award was being retired because it had become susceptible to inconsistencies and conflicts of interest. Lee told Journal-isms by email Friday that he still planned to recommend to the board "changing the current model of thumbs down."

As the news release indicated, the new board of directors elected with Lee last summer reaffirmed the decision made by the previous board.

Asked to comment, Jeremy M. Gaines, vice president for communications at MSNBC, said he stood by his statement of last month: "We couldn't disagree more strongly with their decision. We're very proud of MSNBC's record of diversity both on and off air. It's no accident that MSNBC is the number one cable news channel among African American viewers."

On Friday, he said he would add, "Including MSNBC in such a list the day after we announced the addition of Melissa Harris-Perry, suggests the facts are being ignored."

However, Harris-Perry is an author and professor of political science who is scheduled for weekend mornings. The NABJ statement said, "It is important to note that NABJ draws a distinction between personalities working as anchors or hosts and journalists" and that the award concerned itself with primetime broadcasts.

A Fox News Channel spokeswoman did not respond to a request for comment. A year ago, when Bloomberg declined to release figures on the diversity of its workforce, a spokeswoman said, "While it is our policy not to disclose private information about employees or our workforce, Bloomberg LP is an equal opportunity/affirmative action employer and we have dedicated diversity efforts across the company."

A CNN spokeswoman said the network was preparing a response. In July, Kathy Y. Times, then-NABJ president, reported on a meeting with Walton. "NABJ Vice President of Broadcast Bob Butler and I talked with President Walton late Thursday, and he told us the network continues to seek and develop a candidate who has the image and substance to carry a prime-time show," she wrote.

Walton deployed Mark Whitaker, the former Newsweek editor who had recently became a CNN news executive, to talk with NABJ about finding suitable anchor candidates.

[A CNN spokeswoman issued a statement Saturday that, as with MSNBC, avoided the issue of prime-time progamming: "It is surprising that the NABJ has neglected CNN's most recent programming change. Soledad O'Brien, who was recently honored by NABJ as their organization's 'Journalist of the Year,' is now the sole anchor of CNN's new morning show from 7-9am ET," it said.

["It is also worth noting that in recognition of CNN’s well-known commitment to diversity, NABJ has chosen to honor CNN for its diversity efforts and programming on several occasions and CNN regularly brings its highest-level executives, hiring managers, and talent recruiters to NABJ’s annual convention to recruit from its membership ranks and to speak at conferences and events. For example, later this month, CNN's weekday anchor Suzanne Malveaux is emceeing of NABJ’s Hall of Fame ceremony."]

Traynham Joins MSNBC as "Contributor" on Politics

Robert Traynham, Washington bureau chief for the Comcast Network, has accepted a position as an MSNBC contributor, Traynham and MSNBC announced on Thursday.

In an email, an MSNBC spokeswoman defined "contributor" as "a frequent guest (often multiple times a day) who is exclusive to msnbc."

Robert Traynham Traynham wrote to friends, "I am very excited about the opportunity to be joining a renowned news organization with such an amazing scope of political coverage, especially during this exciting year of politics and campaigns. At the same time, I will be continuing to teach a course in politics at George Washington University, as well as writing my regular column for the Philadelphia Tribune. Coming soon, I expect to announce another exciting role I will be taking on as well."

Referring to Traynham, the Huffington Post reported Friday, "Chris Matthews had a fiery chat with [an] openly gay former aide to Rick Santorum, the Republican presidential candidate who has an infamously frosty relationship with the gay community, on his Thursday show.

"Robert Traynham, who worked for Santorum while he was a senator, defended his former boss from Matthews' repeated attacks."

Johnson Publishing Locates New Headquarters Space

"Johnson Publishing Co. will move its headquarters a few blocks north to the top floors of the Borg-Warner Borg-Warner Building (Credit: at 200 S. Michigan Avenue," Shia Kapos wrote Friday for Crain's Chicago Business.

"The publisher of Ebony and Jet magazines has been looking for new digs since selling its 820 S. Michigan Ave. home to Columbia College in late 2010. It was given an 18-month window to find new offices.

"The publishing company, founded by Chairman Linda Johnson Rice's father and headed by her friend Desiree Rogers, has been working to find ways to reduce costs as circulation and advertising revenue have fallen.

"The current tenant, the Cliff Dwellers club, was pushed out of the building after a lengthy lease negotiation, according to a story first reported in the Chicago Sun-Times.

". . . The new offices, with about 5,500 feet per floor, will be a tighter squeeze for the publishing company that once utilized 110,000 square feet of the old Johnson building, much of which has gone unoccupied in recent years."

Copies of the Michigan Chronicle are placed out during services Friday for Samuel Logan Jr., Michigan Chronicle publisher, at Greater Grace Temple in Detroit. (Credit: Andre J. Jackson/Detroit Free Press)

700 at Services for Michigan Chronicle's Sam Logan

More than 700 people remembered Michigan Chronicle Publisher Samuel Logan Jr. Friday, a church spokesman told Journal-isms, as the Detroit journalist was praised as fiercely independent and caring deeply about his community.

"Mourners from every segment of Metro Detroit — from political and community leaders including Gov. Rick Snyder and Mayor Dave Bing to the common man — gathered Friday at Greater Grace Temple for the funeral of Sam Logan, the longtime publisher of the Michigan Chronicle, the state's oldest and most influential African-American weekly newspaper," Oralandar Brand-Williams wrote for the Detroit News.

Chuck Stokes, editorial/public affairs director of WXYZ-TV, told Journal-isms "the Who's Who of Michigan" attended. "It was a fitting and respectful service," he said. Editor Bankole Thompson recalled how Logan told him, "Don't let anybody tell you what you can and cannot write," Stokes said.

Williams' story continued, "Various floral arrangements and a picture of Logan sitting next to his U.S. flag-draped casket greeted people gathered for the service. A black-and-white video of Logan being interviewed played as mourners filled the church before the service that lasted more than three hours. . . .

"Logan, who died Dec. 28 at his home in Detroit, was 78. . . . he was credited with preserving the Chronicle as a media outlet and institution in the local black community."

The University of Detroit Mercy announced on Wednesday that Logan's family has created a scholarship in his name at the university. Logan graduated from the University's College of Business Administration in 1973.

Logan was publisher of the Chronicle for 40 years and was co-owner of Real Times Media, parent company of the Chronicle and FrontPage, the Chicago Defender, the New Pittsburgh Courier and the Memphis Tri-State Defender newspapers.

Hiram E. Jackson, CEO of Real Times Media, is serving as the Chronicle's interim publisher.

PBS' Suarez, Sreenivasan Irked by Visiting TV Critics

"As a rule it takes days for some network suit, producer or, more likely, bit of on-air talent to start throwing their weight around on stage at this semi annual confab of TV critics and networks," Lisa de Moraes wrote Thursday for the Washington Post.

"But this year a record in the decades-old Press Tour was broken when, on the very first day, in the third Q&A session of this tour, a hissy fit happened — and unexpectedly what with it being a panel discussion about PBS election coverage rather than 'Real Housewives of Beverly Hills.'

". . . unnoticed by many, over at one end of the panel, 'PBS NewsHour' anchor Ray Suarez mooned broodingly, looking like Hamlet.

"And, as programming chief John Wilson was calling it a wrap, Suarez gave voice to his unhappiness:

" 'John, do you think there’s anybody who might want to ask about what our programs are going to do for the rest of the year? I mean, this was interesting — I loved listening to Jeff Greenfield — but might anybody want to talk about news and public affairs and covering the election, which we all flew 3,000 miles here to do?'

"That’s right — Suarez had dissed both the TV critics AND his colleague Greenfield, who looked surprised.

"Then, over at the other end of the panel, 'PBS NewsHour’s' Hari Sreenivasan, who’d been sitting like a bump on a log through the whole Q&A, apparently also brooding, began to snark:

" 'We could crowd source it on Twitter if you can’t come up with questions,' he sniffed at the crowd.

"TV critics congealed in their chairs. Nothing makes TV critics feel so sheepish as being told their questions have not been up to the level of excellence that they, the talent on stage, have come to expect at junkets."

Cast Named for Play Inspired by Jayson Blair Scandal

"Producers of a new play inspired by the Jayson Blair plagiarism scandal at The New York Times have found the actor who will play the disgraced ex-journalist," Mark Kennedy reported from New York for the Associated Press.

Kobi Libii "The Atlantic Theater Company said Wednesday that Kobi Libii will play a Blair-like Times reporter in the world premiere of Gabe McKinley's play 'CQ/CX.'

"Libii, a Yale graduate and alumnus of Second City in Chicago, was in 'Perfect Harmony' at the Acorn Theatre and 'The Tempest' at the Porpentine Theater.

". . . Previews begin Jan. 25 and an official opening is set for Feb. 15. The play will run until March 4 at Signature Theatre Company's Peter Norton Space while Atlantic's main stage gets renovated.

". . . McKinley was a former news assistant at the Times who overlapped with Blair. . . ."

Short Takes

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Richard Prince's Journal-isms originates from Washington and is published Monday, Wednesday and Friday. It began in print before most of us knew what the Internet was, and it would like to be referred to as a "column." For newcomers: The words in blue (on most computers) are links leading to more information. The Web site provides passwords and user names to some registration-only news sites, but use may be illegal in some states. Any views expressed in the column are those of the person or organization quoted and not those of any other entity.

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Traynham Joins MSNBC as "Contributor" on Politics

Conservative Comcast hiring a former aide to conservative hater, Rick Santorum? Now that's a surprise! (sarc)

PBS' Suarez, Sreenivasan Irked by Visiting TV Critics

Ray Suarez is right. MSM has failed to do its job to inform the public. Greenfield and gang, and, yes, Lisa de Moraes continue to diss Americans. The blah, blah, Kardashian, blah, blah, Kutcher BS is pap. BTW, Lisa's article was filed under entertainment. So much for a real look at politics, the election and the candidates. Yikes!!

Cast Named for Play Inspired by Jayson Blair Scandal

Will this differ from the movie and Vanity Fair article--Shattered Glass? Stephen Glass made up quotes, sources and stories in 1998.

Johnson Publishing Company

I wish that some journalist who knows the answer would tell me why on earth Linda Johnson Rice did not take the initiative to lease out all the space her publications were not using anymore to tenants who may have been happy to enjoy the prestige of a downtown Michigan Avenue address.  If Ebony and Jet, et al, can squeeze into this new building, why couldn't they have squeezed into less space at the edifice John Johnson built and rent out to business tenants the rest of the usable square footage?


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